Equity meets bike libertarianism: Anchorage Assembly loosens laws for jaywalkers and cyclists


Under a new “equity” ordinance passed by the Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday, there will be no more fines for jaywalking in Anchorage starting in October.

That’s because the laws against jaywalking were racist, according to the rationale underpinning the new ordinance, and thus minorities are more likely to be cited for jaywalking.

Walkers who perceive no traffic coming should be able to cross a street in Anchorage, the ordinance sponsors said on Tuesday night. People can decide for themselves what is a safe time to cross. Police will have a more difficult time sorting out who is at fault in the expected increases of pedestrian fatalities, sources in law enforcement said.

Also, rules for bicyclists will change. Now, stop signs will be considered yield signs for cyclists and stop lights are like stop signs for them. They can proceed when it’s safe, as they determine what safe is.

No more will bicycles need to have lights, and people riding them on the roads won’t have to wear helmets, unless they are age 15 or under. There will be no more requirement for brakes or bells to alert walkers that the bicycle is approaching from behind.

The loosening of the rules of the road marks a moment of libertarianism by the largely liberal Assembly, which also has instituted things like plastic bag bans and which is leaning toward eliminating scofflaw laws against repeat traffic offenders, a law now on the books but under consideration for removal.

The new jaywalking and biking rules are based in a belief that the laws, as written, lead to racist outcomes because the laws are enforced against minorities. One of the studies used to support the change in the ordinance says that the disparities are because whites obeying helmet laws more than minorities.

In the journal Injury Epidemiology, the authors concluded, “Helmet use increased across racial/ethnic subpopulations, but greater increases among white students increased disparities. Policymakers should couple laws with other approaches to reduce helmet disparities and cycling injuries.”

It’s also unclear if the new city ordinances are overridden by state bike regulations, which specify equipment like brakes, reflectors, and headlamps when bikes are ridden on roads after dark.

For cyclists in Anchorage, they may ride on a city street one moment and be on a state road in another moment, technically rolling along under a different set of laws.

But in practical terms, Anchorage Police and Alaska State Troopers are not citing people for bicycle infractions unless they are being dangerous and egregious, and so the new city laws are more symbolic than necessary.


  1. What would the police do to four cyclists riding as a group taking up an entire lane holding up the traffic. Not even a car is allowed to drive 15 during good road conditions. I’d hope the police would give the four cyclists a ticket for pedaling slower than the traffic. Cause this happened to me last weekend. I passed the cyclists anyway returning back into the turning lane for lake Otis. The four were annoying. As I always say when I see s cyclist pedaling along with traffic he’s just asking to get hit riding next to vehicles going 40-55 sometimes 65-70 for those speeders traveling beside cyclist. cause you can’t always count on drivers being fully alert, as well as there are more drivers today driving impaired by marijuana. Each to his own, it’s the cyclists life. I feel safer pedaling on a sidewalk where there distance between me and car, pedaling facing the traffic, and letting ALL turning cars go first before me.

  2. What you all think of a guard rail bearing separating the bike lane from the vehicle traffic? From a woman’s view I think this feature would make me feel safer and maybe more likely using the bike lane. So a driver who swerves would scratch the guard rail and not the cyclist. A man’s view may see it yes it be nice and feel safer. but he may logically viewing it through cost and construction and traffic safety and liability and practicality issues that I am not seeing except through the emotion lens of personal comfort.

  3. Personal injury attorneys will be getting lots of new business. Democrats on two wheels = more mail-in ballots.

  4. Why do Assembly persons have so much time on their hands?

    Or, is there a “how to dismantle your city piece by agonizing piece” playbook out there used by Democrat politicians across the U.S.?

    I’m always hoping one of them will realize the error of his ways, assent to reality and objective morality, and then send a copy of the playbook to Suzanne so we can finally see from whence these asinine, incoherent ideas spring.

  5. As a racist, I prefer not having to yield to drunk natives walking into traffic on 5th street during rush hour. Anchorage is living in anarchy and tyrrany at the same time.

  6. In 1975 I was stopped for jaywalking on 4th Ave (when it was lined w/ Honkey-Tonks) but only received a warning from the officer.
    That was the last & only time it happened ….. although I have done my share of jaywalking since.
    It’s a law that is (was) on the books so cops could check you out if they wanted to.

    BUT many people are maimed or killed in ANC jaywalking while drunk ….. very common.
    There was a woman killed near Fireweed & Gambell about 10 days ago.

    Be safe out there Darwin is always culling the herd.

  7. Bicyclists in town are mostly a——-. Bikes do NOT belong mixing with pedestrians, nor especially do they belong mixing with motorized traffic, which is a recipe for disaster and suicide.

  8. Next will be loosening the laws for other petty crimes, followed soon after by loosening the laws on major crimes.
    History is abundantly clear on this front. Time will prove me right.
    Betting pool, $1 to enter:
    What crime will be decriminalized next?

      • Actually, it is.
        Can you name a school with armed security, or armed teachers that has had a mass shooting?
        By the way, what crime is getting the decriminalization treatment next? If all you have a gun control tripe, you are wasting your time here.

  9. Because white students obey helmet laws more than black students do, those laws are racist!

    It’s like we are living a dystopian novel where down is up, wet is dry, bad is good, dark is light, stop is yield…

    Watch as pedestrian and bicycle fatalities increase, and the politburo blames drivers for being racist.

    • Consider families on the south side can more easily afford to buy children multiple helmets over the years (as they outgrow the one they currently have) than say poor (and likely an ethnic minority) family in Mountain View or Fairview. The point is pretty moot as these laws have not been enforced by and large.

      • if I see a parent in Mountain View or Fairpoint with a tattoo, or smoking/vaping, simultaneously claiming they do not have money, I am going to ridicule them like they so richly deserve.

  10. Jaywalking enforcement is racist? Yeah, when I’m driving, I always check the skin color of the pedestrian before deciding whether or not to run him over. 🙄

  11. I thought there was no law requiring adults to wear helmets. Just children.
    Were lights required during daylight hours?

  12. Boy, is that gonna confuse motorists even more and lead to more accidents with cyclists. WTF is the Assembly smoking?

    • The same people who think outlawing single use grocery bags will save the planet. (While ignoring that practically EVERYTHING in the grocery store comes in single use disposable plastic.)
      There is a name for people like that. Toddlers.

  13. Im not sure if its eliminating racism or major “culling” of the herd.
    I tend to think the victims of eliminating safety regulations only increases the risk to the younger and more reckless street users and particularly the less educated and those traveling from villages who are not accustomed to faster moving traffic who happen to be minorities.
    I seldom saw the use of helmets in rural villages especially those in their teens which had devastating consequences.
    Based on the number of pedestrian death and injuries I would expect stricter enforcement as I myself have had several nerve rattling close calls downtown Anchorage which I avoid now for many reasons.
    However this is the ASSembly and I do not expect common sense or anything positive to come from their meetings. Just more chaos and ignorance.
    The very short list of Assembly members I can trust just got shorter by one Mr Cross.

  14. I am all for it because bicyclists shouldn’t wear helmets when they blow through stop signs and stoplights. They probably should have to be up to date on all covid booster shots and wear 2 masks, though.

  15. It is funny that these political cultists think laws are going to affect how I ride. They don’t. I ride how I ride and I don’t think about any law when I ride. Who the hell would?
    Common sense still exists, use it.

    Only sheep who cannot govern themselves need rules for riding a bicycle. Lol

  16. People gon’ git’ smooshed… I drive past the A St walmart everyday and it’s a madhouse! Those folks who hang outside there all day ARE CROSSING ON PURPOSE EVEN WHEN THE TRAFFIC IS FLOWING. It is absurd that it was never enforced. Now, there will be several (avoidable) deaths in the coming months of some fool thinking he or she can outrun a rush of vehicles.

  17. It is no wonder that APD was not consulted on this one. Nor the insurance companies. Now the burden is on the motorist when they accidentally hit one of these often drugged up fools.

  18. My vehicle told me it identifies as a bicycle. Since this is implemented under DEI, It cannot be denied it’s identity. So it can blow through stop signs and red lights too and I can ignore laws I don’t want to follow as well. No helmet needed. You will be able to recognize it by the large bicycles being painted on each side.

  19. The first responders are going to need a a supply of pizza paddles to pick up the road pizza s that will be generated by these changes

  20. There should be a caveat unto the new ‘equity’ lawlessness by the clueless Assembly.

    For every collision between bicyclists and pedestrians that CHOOSE to enter the roadway adjacent to, or within the same space of a legally operated motor vehicle and suffer injury or death because of this ‘equity’ lawlessness, said Assembly members that voted to enact said lawlessness should be held personally, and financially responsible not only for the medical bills of the ‘equitable’ individuals struck by motor vehicles whilst exhibiting their ‘rights’ to enter motor vehicle traffic, but also financially responsible for all funeral and burial costs, as well as any repair costs unto the motor vehicle involved within said collision as well as any legal costs incurred by the owner of a legally operated motor vehicle within a legally operated space within a legally operated manner.

    NOT Municipal funds.

    Their PERSONAL funds.

  21. I was hoping Suzanne would pick this bit of ‘news’ and write about it after seeing the ADN’s stupid and tortured attempt to make sense of this latest insane maneuver by the assembly. Before I get scolded for looking at the awful ADN take note that I was only trying to see little league and high school football outcomes but couldn’t help myself after seeing this opinion piece headline: Could new road rules make Anchorage safer for pedestrians and cyclists?
    I’m still shaking my head a day later to try and understand how they could write such garbage rather than truly addressing the problem of bike and pedestrian dangers in our beautiful city. Grabbing facts from a gov’t study of increased deaths over the past decade they lead us to the assumption that allowing jaywalking or zooming through intersections on bikes is just what is needed. For sure, the homeless explosion or pot shop on every corner or American’s love of large trucks and SUV’s that don’t give a fragile human body a chance at survival and the influx of foreigners that stroll across major highways (I’ve seen this myself many times) which may not only be acceptable but probably essential in their home countries devoid of any type of traffic control, has contributed to an uptick in fatalities. These factors have something to do with the problem and they’ve decided the best way to solve it is to allow people to run or bike across busy streets at will?? I’m reminded of the misguided and ridiculous ‘traffic sweeps’ that were put in place on the bike trail leading into Alyeska some years ago. The trail designers literally forced people to interact at roads edge with outbound traffic and when challenged cited statistics that these ‘sweeps’ were found to be statistically safer. Maybe in a mild climate, well lit pedestrian friendly area with a 20 mph zone but I cringe every time I see a tot on a bike or a stroller mom trying to negotiate these ‘sweeps’. As parents and caring adults we spend crazy amounts of time telling our children how to properly cross at intersections and follow the safety rules when biking or walking. Guess we can just toss the poor little ones aside to please the virtue signaling assembly who must’ve gotten tired of no one caring if they wore face diapers anymore. Go ahead kiddies and run for it, you’re on your own. Unbelievable.

  22. I will suit the jackass biker who hits me from behind without a warning..Walking the Chester Creek trail or ANY TRAIL within the Anchorage municipality is NOW a certainly a death trail. Under this statement above:””There will be no more requirement for brakes or bells to alert walkers that the bicycle is approaching from behind.”” You CAN’T hear a biker coming behind you..(1st). Bikers don’t yell loudly, that they are coming behind you. (2.) The draft of wind the biker creates causes the words to just “fly away” therefore NOBODY can hear/or know they said anything..BIKER BEWARE. You have just entered a hiker’s domain and expect people to move over without knowing you’re behind and coming upon us, then expect us to MOVE over..with no bells. It’s time to practice yelling LOUDLY.

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